Tag Archives: Young Adult

5 and 3 Stars for Love Spell by Mia Kerick #MM #YoungAdult @MiaKerick

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Title: Love Spell
Author Name: Mia Kerick
Publication Date & Length: June 1, 2015 – 44,300 Words

Synopsis

Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.)  However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.” But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.

An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.

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Review

 FiveStarsI would really love some of the young people in my life to read this story. With honest, flamboyant flair, Kerick manages to capture the angst of a teen who finds himself in love, but without a clear sense of gender identity.But this isn’t just an angsty story – it is funny. And sweet. And clever.I have to admit I almost didn’t read past the first five pages. At the start, Chance Cesar’s voice grated. Camp as Christmas and incredibly smug, he first struts across the stage as a femme drama queen. But slowly, carefully, Kerick peels back Chance’s bravado, eliminates his public mask and reveals his strength, his kindness and his insecurities.

Fans of John Green’s books will really enjoy the honest teen voices in this story. The relationships between Emily and Chance and Chance and Jasper are beautifully written. The gritty realism of Jasper’s life contrasts brutally with the more superficial problems plaguing Emily and Chance.

Young adult books have come so far – this is a gem and it is a pleasure to read.

Sarah
ThreeStar
I was really interested in this book because there are not enough books about trans and genderqueer people, and I really like reading about characters outside the binaries. I also thought the concept–trying to catch a boyfriend with a cheesy online article–was funny and cute.

Unfortunately, this was a great idea with poor execution. Most of the characters came across as stereotypes. Chance felt a lot more like a Hollywood gay cliche than a genderqueer kid. I liked how he was just his own person, but unfortunately, it mostly served to make him seem far removed from his peers. I was disappointed that Jazz, too, felt like a stereotype of a working-class kid, complete with being in the tech school (as though rich kids can’t be in tech school and poor kids must be). Emily ended up feeling like a flat character and a prop for Chance rather than a person in her own right.

The writing itself was very challenging. It is full of text-speak/text-spelling and adolescent “lingo” that felt over-the-top and unrealistic. If that had been toned down a lot, I think it would have been more enjoyable just on that alone.

The best parts of this were Chance’s musings about his gender. There was some great, brutally honest stuff in there, and his own self-discovery was excellent. I wish that had been drawn out more and explored in more ways than mostly his fashion choices. At times, his thoughts actually came across as sexist and like gender lines in the sand (such as being “emotional” equating to femininity, referring to breasts as “fashion accessories,” or “hanging out and talking” being a guy thing). When he was honest about how he felt about his identity, it became much less of a stereotype and much more natural and real.

I would be hesitant to give this to a person struggling with gender identity. It felt like the story tried to do too much in too small a space. I’m not convinced it’s the best or most realistic expression of gender identity issues. Despite that, there was some fun to be had, and the storyline itself was sweet, with a decent payoff at the end.

Amy

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Cover Reveal: Love Spell by Mia Kerick #MM #YoungAdult @MiaKerick

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Title: Love Spell
Author Name: Mia Kerick
Publication Date & Length: June 1, 2015 – 44,300 Words

Synopsis

Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance César, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong.

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been “caught between genders.” (It’s quite a touchy subject; so don’t ask him about it.)  However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness—he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as “girl-boy.” But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make “Jazz” Donahue his man.

An article in an online women’s magazine, Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen.

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Excerpt

Not to say that I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days, but I kept my phone basically right beneath my chin for the next four days. Yes, I was oh-so-pathetically waiting for his call, which I am aware fully explains the need for the phrase “get a life.” But Jazz hadn’t been at school on the Thursday or Friday after he had called and cancelled our playdate, and now it’s Sunday night, and I still haven’t heard from him. And although I’m frustrated that all of my elaborate plans to make him fall head over heels in love with moi have apparently tanked, I’m also growing genuinely concerned.

That’s when my cell phone, which I placed on my chest before I lay down on my now “love-spell-pink” wrapped mattress, starts singing Express Yourself.

“Yo.” I don’t check the number. It’s Emmy—who else would it be?

“Hi, Chance.” The deep voice is so not Emmy’s.

Yaaassss!!! This is what ninety-nine percent of my insides shout. One percent says quietly, “It’s about frigging time you called, asshole.”

But my voice is calm. “Jasper,” I say blandly. In my opinion, he hasn’t earned the right to be called Jazz any longer.

“Um, sorry, no. It’s Jazz.”

I try not to roll my eyes even though I know he won’t see, but it’s an epic fail. “Whatever.”

“I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch for a couple days. My mom’s been real sick. I was lookin’ after her, gettin’ her to the doctor, goin’ to the pharmacy, bringing JoJo back and forth to school, and stuff.”

Oh.

“Mom caught JoJo’s strep throat and had to go to the ER because she couldn’t even swallow.” He stops talking for a second and then clears his voice. “Alls she could do was spit into a rag whenever she needed to swallow.”

Well, that’s definitely TMI, but I get the fucker-nelly revolting picture. “I’m sorry.”

“Not your fault, dude.”

And then there’s silence.

“Gonna take JoJo to the library after school tomorrow. But first I gotta stop by the cable company and pay up or we’re gonna lose our TV and internet at home. They already warned us like twice.”

“Want me to pick up Yolo at school and take her to the library?” I’m so freaking pissed off at him. Why am I offering to save his ass again?

“That’s cool of you to offer, but there’s a bus she can take to the library from her school. Could ya be waiting for her at the library, in case I get held up?”

“Of course.” I’m a Class A sucker.

“You’re such a cool pal.” Ugh—so not what I’m going for.

“Thanks.”

“I’m not gonna be at lunch tomorrow seein’ as I’ll probably be collecting my makeup work. So, I’ll see ya at the library. ‘Kay?”

I don’t say kkkk cuz it’s not even slightly cool. “Sure. The libes after school, it is.”

“Thank you, bro,” Jazz offers.

One more silence, and then I say, “Later.”

I have research to do.

AuthorBio

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty-two years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships, and she believes that physical intimacy has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, CoolDudes Publishing, and CreateSpace for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

Mia is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights, especially marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

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5 Star review for Go Your Own Way by Zane Riley M/M Romance @ZaneNebula

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Title : Go Your Own Way

Author: Zane Riley

Publication Date and Length: 5-5-2015 326 pages

Synopsis

Will Osborne couldn’t wait to put the roller coaster ride of his public education behind him. Having suffered bullying and harassment since grade school, he planned a senior year that would be simple and quiet before going away to college and starting fresh. But when a reform school transfer student struts into his first class, Will realizes that the thrill ride has only just begun.

Lennox McAvoy is an avalanche. He’s crude, flirtatious, and the most insufferable, beautiful person Will’s ever met. From his ankle monitor to his dull smile, Lennox appears irredeemable. But when Will’s father falls seriously ill, Will discovers that there is more to Lennox than meets the eye.

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Review

FiveStars

Zane Riley’s first book contains beguiling characters, complex relationships and a healthy dose of teen angst. It is one of the best young/new adult books I’ve read in quite a while.

Lennox is that mythical fantasy creature – the tortured bad boy with a heart of gold.  He is a perfect match for the preppy Will.  Both boys are beautiful and clever.  Their banter is witty and their chemistry is hot.

I love the complexity of Go Your Own Way.  Zane Riley manages to weave several subplots across each other with the dexterity of a much more experienced writer.  Lennox and Will struggle with much more than attraction.  The boys learn an awful lot about family, loss and love.  ~Sarah

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4 stars for Every Inferno by Johanna Parkhurst #MM #YoungAdult #mystery #comingofage @johannawriteson

EveryInfernoORIG

Title: Every Inferno
Author Name: Johanna Parkhurst
Publication Date & Length: July 24, 2014 – 180 pgs

Synopsis

Depressed. Defiant. Possible alcoholic. These are just a few of the terms used to describe fifteen-year-old Jacob Jasper Jones. Lately, though, JJ has a new one to add to the list: detective. He’s been having strange dreams about the fire that killed his parents ten years ago, and he thinks he finally has the clue to catching the arsonist who destroyed his family.

A murder investigation isn’t the only thing the dreams trigger for JJ. They also lead to secret meetings with his estranged sister, an unlikely connection with a doctor who lost his daughter in the fire, and a confusing friendship with McKinley, a classmate of JJ’s who seems determined to help him solve the mystery.

All JJ wants is to shake the problems that have followed him since that fire, and he’s convinced he must catch the arsonist to do it. But as JJ struggles to find the culprit, he sees there’s more than one mystery in his life he needs to solve.

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Review

 FourStars

This story has some triggers – alcoholism, death, suicide, mental health issues and arson.
JJ is such a wonderfully written character. Because Parkhurst wrote about JJ’s past, you really come to understand his mindset – his struggles and his achievements.
Dr. Ben was someone who JJ needed and I loved how despite having a similar tragedy, Dr. Ben’s perspective was mature and helped guide JJ rather than feed the fire within. I think this book would have seriously been lacking if Dr. Ben was not a part of the story. Dr. Ben was able to provide perspective to JJ in a way that no other person had.
Then there is the lovable McKinley. JJ and him have a somewhat complicated relationship at first. But, because they are both young and are working through their relationship, I can understand why some of the childish tantrums that McKinley throws are necessary.
The friend who adopted Penny – I do not even want to use her name – what a b**ch! I could throttle her and I really wish we would have seen what she would have to say for herself when she learned what her precious Patrick had said to 6 year old JJ.  I wanted more from that aspect – but was glad that JJ was maturing enough to say what he had to say, but not harp on it.
The mystery of this story was both tragic and redeeming all in one. It helped tie the story lines together and show that while sometimes the past is harmful and hurtful – you can overcome with support and love.
Great story.
~AvidReader

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Excerpt

A SMELL that wasn’t there before filled the bathroom.

JJ drew in a deep breath, trying to match the scent to anything that might already exist in his short memory. It was a difficult scent to describe: like pine trees, but not the real ones in his backyard. More like the smell of the stuff his father used to clean the kitchen floor.

He tried to push off the sudden sense of apprehension that filled him; who cared if someone else had also come into the restroom? This was his town, the tiny world he had spent his entire five years in, and there was a good chance he knew whoever else had just joined him.

Even if he didn’t know anyone who went around smelling like pine trees.

JJ took a few breaths and flushed the toilet, eager to get back to the movie and his parents.

As he shoved the door of the stall open, though, the scent grew stronger. The person who had brought the scent in with him—a man—was facing the wall across the room. He was wearing a backpack and hugging his arms to his chest.

“I did it… I did it,” the man whispered. “I finally did it.”

JJ moved to the sinks, more eager than ever to return to the comforting gaze of his mother. But the noise of his sneakers against the tile alerted the man to JJ’s presence, and now the stranger was turning around to face him.

It was the oddest sensation to only be able to see certain details of a person: blue jeans, a red long-sleeve shirt. And then a detail so clear it almost seemed to be the only thing JJ could see: the outline of a long and winding paintbrush, tattooed on the man’s hand, snaking down from just below his thumb to where it disappeared beneath the cuff of his shirt.

But nothing else. No other details were there. The man was faceless. The color of hair was… what was it? It was as if it had never been there.

Then JJ could see nothing, and all he could hear was the man shouting. Something about how JJ shouldn’t be there, and he couldn’t know, and it wasn’t time yet….

The pain began then. Horrible, burning, pain, and JJ knew he was screaming, but he couldn’t hear himself over the roaring in his ears. He needed to find the door, the door, where was the door—

JACOB JASPER Jones woke up sweating, twisted into a trap of sheets and blankets. He frantically cast his eyes around the walls of his bedroom, looking for anything that would remind him he was not in that restroom again. There was the Modest Mouse poster, his bookshelf, the old dresser that had once belonged to his aunt—yes, he was safe.

Safe from what? Or who?

JJ quietly wrestled with the covers, thankful that he wasn’t a screamer and didn’t seem to have woken Aunt Maggie up. If it was up to JJ, Maggie would never know that JJ was having dreams about that day again.

They’d started about a month ago. Before then JJ had never dreamed anything specific about the fire. The nightmares were always vague and mushy, filled with flames and noise and not much else.

Not like this dream. This dream was clear and specific and so real it was as though JJ was reenacting every detail from that day. Right up until the end, when the faceless man turned and everything went black.

It was so vivid that JJ was starting to think it might be more than just a dream. That it might be a memory.

AuthorInterview

  • Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?

 

I love writing in a comfortable chair in my office or outdoors on my patio in the sunshine. Wherever I feel relaxed and at peace—that’s where I’m likely to do my best writing.

 

  • Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?

 

I relate strongly to Jack from Here’s to You, Zeb Pike. His desire to help others (whether they want to be helped or not) is something that resonates greatly with me. I don’t think I have half the patience that Jack does, though!

 

  • If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?

I definitely need a creative outlet of some kind, so if I had to give up writing, I’d need to replace it with something else creative. Maybe sculpture or pottery? I’m always thought it would be fun to play with clay.

 

  • Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?

Beta readers make life infinitely better! I used to write in a vacuum, not showing anyone a draft until I was so deep into it that I couldn’t see the forest through the trees. Now I have a circle of fantastic beta readers who tell it to me straight when I’ve got a story line that just isn’t working AND who keep my confidence up when I’m ready to give up on writing. It’s a much happier writing life all around.

 

  • Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?

The ending of Every Inferno sometimes garners criticism because the book plays with elements of the mystery genre and doesn’t follow all the traditions of the genre…which frustrates some readers. So sometimes I imagine a world where I’d written the end of the book differently. But I also write the ending the way I did for a reason, and I like the way it turned out. So I don’t think I’ll ever want to change it.

 

  • How do you come up with new ideas for your story?

They come from all over! Often I get ideas from watching my students (I’m a teacher) or news stories I read about. I once saw YA author Gordan Korman speak, and he said the best way to imagine a new story idea is to ask yourself a “what if” question. (I.e. what if a boy started having dreams about the person who killed his parents?) So I spend a lot of time asking myself “what if” questions. Often in random places, where people then give me funny looks and wonder why I’m talking to myself.

 

  • What’s next for you as a writer?

I just finished drafting the sequel to my first book, Here’s to You, Zeb Pike. That project’s taken me forever to finish, so I’m excited to be one step closer to a finished product.

 

  • Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?

 

I live in Colorado and I grew up in Vermont, so most of my books are set in one place or the other. Both are places I know well and love, so it’s natural for me to put my characters in these settings. I do want to branch out soon and start writing into some different settings.

 

  • What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?

I love stories, so I’ll read in almost any genre. I just finished a spectacular fantasy novel and immediately followed it up with a romance. Next on the list is a YA sci-fi book.

 

  • Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc?

Travel is, in some ways my worst vice. I love to travel and I’ll spend far too much money on trips…on the other hand, travel makes me happy, and I think it makes me a better person and a better writer. So I’m not completely convinced it’s a vice. J

AuthorBio

Johanna Parkhurst grew up on a small dairy farm in northern Vermont before relocating to the rocky mountains of Colorado. She spends her days helping teenagers learn to read and write and her evenings writing things she hopes they’ll like to read. She strives to share stories of young adults who are as determined, passionate, and complex as the ones she shares classrooms with.

Johanna holds degrees from Albertus Magnus College and Teachers College, Columbia University. She loves traveling, hiking, skiing, watching football, and spending time with her incredibly supportive husband.

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3.5 Stars for Come to My Window by Mia Kerick – #Lesbian #FF #YoungAdult #GenderIdentity

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Title: Come to My Window
Author Name: Mia Kerick
Publication Date & Length: January 15, 2015 – 182pgs

Synopsis

Justine Laraby and Kemina Lopez are intimate acquaintances yet they have never exchanged so much as a single word. For months, high school senior Justine, and famed model, “Kemina, the Baby Vixen” of Nightingale Lingerie, have been peering at each other across a narrow alley between brownstones in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This mutual observation soon turns into the exchange of handwritten messages on signs they hold up whenever they come to their bedroom windows. Via this “sign language,” a friendship grows, and Justine learns that Kemina is, like her, a high school senior, but with a controlling mother and a modeling career that requires her to maintain an unnaturally thin physique. And through the window, she also witnesses her new friend exercising fanatically, hoarding food, and being physically and emotionally abused by her ambitious mother.

Window messages evolve into clandestine meetings and soon a tentative romance blooms. But Justine must come to terms with her own “mommy issues,” as well as accept her gender identity and sexual orientation, before she can provide Kemina with the support she needs to survive a family life that resembles a ruthless business transaction.

Will Justine be strong enough to throw open the window so Kemina can escape society’s suffocating expectations?

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

I found this to be an unusual and unlikely storyline.  Two teenage girls watch each other from each other’s windows.  They begin writing notes to each other they press up against the window.  It is through this form of communication they develop a friendship which grows into more as they decide to meet outside of their four walls.

Justine attends a private school and Kemina does an online school so she can pursue her modeling for Nightgale Lingerie.  When Kemina is not studying, going on photo shoots, she is exercising in her room and being weighed and measured by her controlling mother.  Kemina’s mother (only known as Mrs. Lopez) is her manager.  She supports both of them with money made by her modeling career.

Kemina invites Justine over one evening via note to the window when she mom is out for the evening.  It seems like Kemina is not satisfied with seeing Justine the few times she has in public.  Unfortunately, their first kiss is interrupted by Mrs. Lopez coming home early.  Being teenagers, they lie and say they were studying.  Justine goes home.

What I did like about this book was the fact that Kemina wants to start a new line of clothing for women who aren’t a size 2 and can be proud of their bodies.  Not surprisingly, her mom goes ballistic and Justine tells Kemina she can stay at her house so she can be safe.

Kemina does start a new clothing line with Nightgale Lingerine and begins spending late nights working with designers.  One evening Justine cannot get in touch with Kemina and is getting ready to go to sleep and looks into Kemina’s old room.  She sees suitcases open on her bed full of clothes, but there is no one in the room.  She tells her dad her fears and they go to Kemina’s house.  I was shocked to read what Mrs. Lopez had done.  She put Kemina in the backseat, gagged her and zip–tied her hands behind her back.  Guess she was really mentally unbalanced after all.  The police are called and Mrs. Lopez is called and is arrested.

This would be a good book for Young Adults who are worried about being a size 2.  They can read this and know it is okay to be the size you are.

Angela

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Teaser

CTMWRC

Excerpt

But it’s not until the screen fills with the image of this baby seal,
all white and fluffy with dark vulnerable eyes that we both gasp a
little bit and then turn to look at each other. I can feel her breath on
my lips and my nose is nearly touching hers, and, well, I don’t know
about Kemina, but I’m all kinds of spellbound by this moment. She
reaches up and touches my jaw, just below my ear, with this soft
brush of her fingertips, and I have no choice but to lean down and
kiss her. Not that I was looking too hard for another option. Cuz I
wasn’t.
I kind of thought that my first kiss would be like an electric
shock or the sharp poke of cupid’s dart or fireworks exploding in a
dark night sky, but it’s not like any of those things. The way it feels
when my lips touch Kemina’s is soft and gentle and tender. It’s a
yielding of her mouth to mine, and then mine to hers. It’s an intimate
moment that’s breathy and warm and sweet and just ours.
“Ummmm….” She lets out this sound that makes me think of
how it feels to sink into a hot bath after a long afternoon of ice
skating in frigid temperatures. “That was my first real kiss.”
“Real kiss?” I ask. Our lips are only about an inch apart. I have
a strong feeling that her second real kiss is only a moment away.

AuthorBio

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

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5 Stars for Come to My Window by Mia Kerick – #Lesbian #FF #YoungAdult #GenderIdentity

unnamed (1)

Title: Come to My Window
Author Name: Mia Kerick
Publication Date & Length: January 15, 2015 – 182pgs

Synopsis

Justine Laraby and Kemina Lopez are intimate acquaintances yet they have never exchanged so much as a single word. For months, high school senior Justine, and famed model, “Kemina, the Baby Vixen” of Nightingale Lingerie, have been peering at each other across a narrow alley between brownstones in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This mutual observation soon turns into the exchange of handwritten messages on signs they hold up whenever they come to their bedroom windows. Via this “sign language,” a friendship grows, and Justine learns that Kemina is, like her, a high school senior, but with a controlling mother and a modeling career that requires her to maintain an unnaturally thin physique. And through the window, she also witnesses her new friend exercising fanatically, hoarding food, and being physically and emotionally abused by her ambitious mother.

Window messages evolve into clandestine meetings and soon a tentative romance blooms. But Justine must come to terms with her own “mommy issues,” as well as accept her gender identity and sexual orientation, before she can provide Kemina with the support she needs to survive a family life that resembles a ruthless business transaction.

Will Justine be strong enough to throw open the window so Kemina can escape society’s suffocating expectations?

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Review

FiveStars

This is a terrific book. I couldn’t put it down, and I didn’t want it to end. Both the narrator, Justine, and the other main character, Kemina, are complex, interesting girls. The pleasure is in watching them unfold through the story.

Justine is a great narrator–honest, sometimes brutally so, but likable nonetheless. From putting her father’s girlfriend in her place to admitting her own struggles, she tells it like it is. I loved her interactions with her world. She’s the kind of person girls can admire for her ability to withstand whatever is thrown at her.

I loved the theme of perfection woven into the story and how every character struggles with it in different ways. There is definitely a pretty clear black-and-white line between the truly evil characters and everyone else, but there are also a lot of shades of gray. There’s also an undertone of hope and forgiveness in the side plot about Justine’s mother and her ongoing battle with addiction.

Someday, I hope to share this book with my own daughter. It’s a good one for parents of girls to read and talk about, especially with regard to body image, perfection, and what it means to be beautiful.

5 stars

Amy

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Teaser

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Excerpt

But it’s not until the screen fills with the image of this baby seal,
all white and fluffy with dark vulnerable eyes that we both gasp a
little bit and then turn to look at each other. I can feel her breath on
my lips and my nose is nearly touching hers, and, well, I don’t know
about Kemina, but I’m all kinds of spellbound by this moment. She
reaches up and touches my jaw, just below my ear, with this soft
brush of her fingertips, and I have no choice but to lean down and
kiss her. Not that I was looking too hard for another option. Cuz I
wasn’t.
I kind of thought that my first kiss would be like an electric
shock or the sharp poke of cupid’s dart or fireworks exploding in a
dark night sky, but it’s not like any of those things. The way it feels
when my lips touch Kemina’s is soft and gentle and tender. It’s a
yielding of her mouth to mine, and then mine to hers. It’s an intimate
moment that’s breathy and warm and sweet and just ours.
“Ummmm….” She lets out this sound that makes me think of
how it feels to sink into a hot bath after a long afternoon of ice
skating in frigid temperatures. “That was my first real kiss.”
“Real kiss?” I ask. Our lips are only about an inch apart. I have
a strong feeling that her second real kiss is only a moment away.

AuthorBio

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—all named after saints—and five nonpedigreed cats—all named after the next best thing to saints, Boston Red Sox players. Her husband of twenty years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about that, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled men and their relationships, and she believes that sex has a place in a love story, but not until it is firmly established as a love story. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with romantic tales of tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Mia is proud of her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of marital equality. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

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TWO 4 Star Reviews for The Gravity Between Us by Kristen Zimmer – #FF #Romance #New Adult @kristen_zimmer

1.3

Title: The Gravity Between Us
Author Name: Kristen Zimmer
Publication Date & Length: October 17, 2013 – 310pgs

Synopsis

Where does friendship stop and love begin?

At just 19, Kendall Bettencourt is Hollywood’s hottest young starlet with the world at her feet – but behind the glamour and designer dresses is a girl who longs for normal.

Payton Taylor is Kendall’s best friend since childhood, and the one person who reminds her of who she really is – her refuge from the craziness of celebrity life.

With her career taking off, Kendall moves Payton to LA to help keep her sane. But Payton is hiding a secret that could make everything ten times worse. Because to her, Kendall is more than a best friend – she is the only girl that she has ever loved.

Just as they need each other more than ever, they’ll have to answer the question of where friendship stops and love begins? And find out whether the feelings they have can survive the mounting pressure of fame…

The Gravity Between Us is a daring, romantic, emotional story about friendship, love, and finding the courage to be yourself in a crazy world.

New Adult novel: recommended for 17+ due to mature themes and sexual content

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Review

FourStars

The Gravity Between Us seems like a typical fluff book on paper. Rich, famous actress and the girl back home (who’s super talented and hot!). Right? But this book is unique and tons of fun.
Kendall Bettencourt is a down-to-earth-but-not-frumpy starlet who should be reminding you of other starlets, especially ones who’ve made it big in indie and young adult movies. Ahem.
Payton Taylor is her childhood best friend, but she’s neither secretly in love with Kendall nor a sniveling hanger-on offered up for contrast. She’s a thriving, interesting person with her own stuff going on, and she and Kendall have a strong, mature relationship outside of their attraction.
In fact, it’s hard to believe these characters are 18 or 19 years old. They’re wise beyond their years.
But this is not a serious book. It’s FUN, like I said. Solid writing that doesn’t tax the reader too much, good chemistry, unbelievable situations that I want to believe in because they’re so outlandishly pleasing. Yes, everything goes right for our leading ladies, but for once, they seem to have earned it fair and square by being good people. Sometimes hard to find, especially with young protagonists.
This isn’t a book to read if you’re looking for sex. It’s not really there. But if you want some escapism, and some hopefulness–this takes place in a world where gay discrimination in Hollywood is quickly losing grip–then this is going to be a great read.
C.E. Case
FourStars

This book is a great story of love and finding oneself. It surpasses complications and issues multiple times that are thrown at the characters, and they always find the strength to pull through. It took me a few pages to get into the story, but once I got beyond the first few pages I couldn’t put it down for most of the book.

There were a few places where this book seemed to drag. It’s really not until the last 40% of the book that the two main characters really make progress in their relationship. My biggest issue with this book is that it’s very anti-bisexual. It’s set up almost perfectly for Kendall to be bisexual, yet she wants to be anything but bi because being bi is being a “sometimes lesbian” like Lauren is.

As a bisexual woman myself, I found it rather offensive and distasteful. Kendall could have easily be lesbian without dissing or putting down another skittle in the rainbow. She could have even questioned whether or not she herself were bi before discovering she wasn’t. This issue definitely made my rating drop as it was a thread throughout most of the second part of the book.

Payton was a character I could deeply relate to. She was down to earth and had a great sense of humor. Definitely laughed multiple times at her internal monologue. These characters read as if they’re in their early twenties based on actions, although there’s also an immaturity in them when it comes to relationships. I had a hard time thinking of them as only nineteen.

Overall, this was a good read. It explored issues I think many LGBT et al persons experience, whether or not we have gobs of money. It’s a book that explores what it means to come to terms with our own sexuality.

4 stars

AJ

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AuthorBio

Kristen is a New Jersey-based freelance writer and editor. A member of the International Women’s Writing Guild, she holds a B.A. in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing from Montclair State University. She also studied Music Performance with a focus on percussion instruments at Five Towns College. When not busy writing or burying her nose in books of the YA/New Adult fiction persuasion, Kristen enjoys spending time with her family, which includes two adorable Black Lab mixes and a very patient Better Half, and making electronic music. The Gravity Between Us, a contemporary New Adult Romance, is her first novel.

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Filed under 4 Star, AJ, C. E. Case, F/F, Review